Tag Archives: gesso

The Cats of Italy, number 2

As I mentioned in my previous post about the cats of Italy, some were definitely feral and others clearly had a home, like these two Kittens of Venice.  Venice was our last stop in Italy, so by then I was definitely on the lookout for all potential kitty subjects.  We had spent a late afternoon exploring on the north side of the Grand Canal, then were looking for a restaurant to eat supper.  We passed this window just as we found the perfect spot to eat.

Like most windows in Italy, there was no screen, so I was actually able to reach in and give their little heads a scratch with my fingers, and they were so sleepy they didn’t care.  I love the age of the brickwork, and the ornate wrought iron.   Everything in Italy, no matter how simple or practical its use, seems to have been made to look beautiful for hundreds of years.  We could learn a lot from this over here in North America!

During the Oxford Studio Tour, coming up May 5 & 6, 2018, this painting (among others) will be on display along with the previous one in the series, and a new one that I’ll be introducing soon!

Kittens of Venice. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 15×22″. Artist Lianne Todd. $450

And now, for a little context, here is where we ate, with this window next door.   It was very lovely, and the food was good, though now I can’t actually remember what we ate!   For anyone interested, it was the Trattoria Alla Palazzina.  These are two other views from our table:


Lofty Thinking

Happy New Year to all.  I hope you were able to enjoy the holidays.  If you weren’t able to do that, I hope you’ll find new and wonderful beginnings this year.

Prior to the holidays, I finished this painting I’m introducing to you today.  I spent a lot of time in haylofts as a child.  I don’t get to do that much anymore.  So when a friend in the Artists of Oxford – Kristi Osinga – invited us to her farm for a paint-out a couple of years ago, I took advantage of the photo opportunity which gave me the reference for this piece.

A Place for Lofty Thoughts. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 15x22". Lianne Todd. $450.00

A Place for Lofty Thoughts. Watercolour on Gessoed Paper. 15×22″. Lianne Todd. $450.00

Some of the best times of my youth were spent in the hayloft.  It was my job, for several years, to go up there after school in the late fall, winter and early spring, and throw down several bales of hay for our dairy herd to eat.  Dad would be down in the barn cleaning out the stable, and I would be up there singing any song I could remember the words to at the top of my lungs.  Some of the bales would be dense, and others would be light and fragrant.  All of it was scratchy.

If I was lucky, in springtime there would be kittens to find in the hayloft, hidden in a corner or a cave created by stacked bales.  First they would be so tiny they were barely distinguishable from one of the mother cat’s paws, then they would grow into little soft blue-eyed waddling balls of fluff.  And then later they’d be braver than they should be and scampering everywhere.  I always hoped to have them fully tamed by then, but alas, there was the occasional litter I didn’t find in time and then it was a real task to ever get hands on them, let alone tame them.

Less enthusiasm was given on my part for the finding of hen’s nests.  We had a large number of free range chickens on the farm, and it was also my job to find the nests and gather the eggs every day.  This consisted of a mental battle between me and the sitting hen.  Some were less than cooperative about moving off the nest so I could get the eggs (always leaving a nest egg so they would come back).  I can still picture some of them giving me the one-eyed “I dare you” look, and feel the fear of having my eyes pecked out deep in my heart.

Every summer I savour the smell of fresh hay being mown if I encounter it.  Summer had its own joys in the hay mow – that of hard work, sweat, and camaraderie with the local kids my age who were often hired to help with putting the hay in the loft.  And the satisfaction, like piecing together a puzzle, with a well built stack – the efficiency of space usage was appreciable.   We often commiserated about the work – the heat, the humidity, the fact we had to wear long sleeves and pants to keep from getting completely scratched, the heaviness of some of the bales (most weren’t bad, but some felt like they were filled with lead), the blisters on our fingers from baling twine (the farmers’ equivalent of duct tape) even though we were wearing gloves… but the fact is, we loved it.  Time teaches you a lot of things, and makes you appreciate that which made you who you are.

If I needed some time alone to contemplate life, the loft was a good place to go.  It was peaceful, quiet, and soft.  You could relax, breathe in the aromas, lift your eyes to the light coming in, and things would become a little clearer.  I tried to transport myself to the hayloft of my youth while I painted this one.  I can’t actually go there anymore – that was one of the things I lost in 2016 – and even though I could have gone I didn’t, for a number of years.  It wasn’t the same anymore once the cows were gone, and the cats were less abundant, and the hay wasn’t put in fresh every year.  It just wasn’t.  It’s the animals and the work that make a barn a nice place.

It happened that just before I began painting this, a podcast was recommended to me by the social media I find myself unfortunately addicted to.  I don’t often pay attention to those types of recommendations, but the title intrigued me.  It was called ‘Finding Our Way in the Cosmos’, one of many in a series called Waking Up by Sam Harris.  I had never heard of him before but he’s a neuroscientist and an author.  He was having a conversation with physicist David Deutsch, who I had also never heard of.  I had, however, heard of several of his other podcast guests in the Waking Up series.  Near the beginning of the recommended podcast episode, Sam recommends listening to a different episode first – a previous conversation with David Deutsch called Surviving the Cosmos.  What better way to stimulate lofty thinking than listening to this while painting a loft?  Well, it took me several different podcast episodes to finish the painting and I have to say, there are few people in this world who I find more agreeable to listen to than Sam Harris.  I’m now a huge fan.  His outlook may not be for everyone but if you listen and find him as intelligent, reasonable, logical, thoughtful and humorous as I did, I am sure we would get along very well.

Pics of the current show

This will take you to today’s post on my other site.  Just a few Pics of the current show.  Hope you can make it out to see the show in person if you are in the area!  Thank you to those who those who did come to the opening on Friday, and to all those who came out to the original show in London last summer!


Just a note – and a painting (but please read the note!)


Hello dear blog followers and those who have happened by!  I would like to thank all of you for stopping here and showing an interest.  As you may already know, I have another blog which I started recently, to showcase just my work in fractals.  Some of them are watercolours, others are digital art, and others are photography.  From now on my posts in one blog will not necessarily be connected to my posts in the other, so I am hoping you will all follow both blogs, as they will be very different and I hope both will interest you.  Now that I have presented all of my fractal work (up to now) together in a live setting, I am excited to talk about the work and my ideas, and share it with those who have been unable to see it in person.  I will also have more time for my regular posts here, and more time to paint!


Here is a little painting I did earlier this spring.  It celebrates the awkwardness of youth.  And also cute foals in general.  It’s currently on display at the Lighthouse Theatre in Port Dover as part of the Oxford Studio Tour’s Arts Country Gallery Exhibit.  Thank you to Alison for providing the inspiration :).  My visits to her farm feed my farm-girl soul on a weekly basis during the summer!

Awkward Watercolour on Gessoed Paper 11x15" $280.00 framed

Watercolour on Gessoed Paper
$280.00 framed


Video from The ARTS Project

If you haven’t checked out my other blog yet, perhaps this will pique your interest!  It’s a video made by The ARTS Project, in which I ramble on about my fractal art.  The exhibition has been a success so far: good attendance at the opening, and seven pieces have sold – people really seem to be responding well to it!  It’s on for one more week, Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 pm.

Here, also, is a photo from when the show was being hung.

Fractal Paintings

Fractal Paintings

Workshop – watercolour on gesso-coated paper

On July 19, I will be teaching a workshop at the Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg, Ontario, on painting with watercolours on gesso-coated paper.   There is always a lot of interest in my paintings on this surface and it’s a tricky one to master.  We have enough students for the workshop to run already, but the more the merrier!  Register early so you can obtain the materials you need and do the preparations.


Here is one example of a painting on gesso-coated paper you may not have seen yet.  It is currently hanging in the Woodstock Art Gallery in the Community Gallery on the second floor, as part of the Artists of Oxford exhibit, ‘Phases’, which will run until the end of July.

The Beauty of Fleetingness

The Beauty of Fleetingness

Opening reception tomorrow!

All are welcome to attend this opening, so don’t be shy – come out and enjoy the free refreshments!

Special thanks to Mary-Anne Murphy and Oxford Creative Connections for supporting Oxford County artists, and to the Elm Hurst Inn for providing such a lovely venue.

June 2013 Elm Hurst Invitation